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‘You have to keep your mind going’ — La Jollan Frank Tabor reflects on life as 100th birthday approaches

As his 100th birthday (Aug. 18) draws near, La Jolla resident Frank Tabor talked about keeping a sharp mind and a heart full of gratitude. “My life has been very good, it’s been a very happy one and I’m delighted to still be here,” he told La Jolla Light.

More so, he said he is grateful to be living in La Jolla. Tabor came to The Jewel from Chicago on vacation when he was a young adult, and after seeing the West Coast and the ocean for the first time, he said he considered La Jolla “The Garden of Eden.”

Almost 100-year-old La Jolla resident Frank Tabor
Almost 100-year-old La Jolla resident Frank Tabor

While living in Chicago, Tabor was an executive at Zenith Radio Corporation (now Zenith Electronics, LLC) in the hearing aid department. He cites the 1940s as an exciting time in his career and in his life. “I was a younger man then, and life is good when you are younger,” he said.

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Historically, the era was also significant for the products Tabor helped manufacture. During World War II (1939-1945), technological focus shifted to miniaturizing war supplies. Zenith applied miniaturization to make hearing aids smaller and more accessible, which led to the development of pocket- sized hearing aid equipment, and eventually the hearing aid technology of today.

When Zenith needed someone to run the West Coast division offices, Tabor jumped at the chance. Although unsure of the year, he moved to La Jolla as an adult, and continued to work at Zenith until he retired decades ago.

But the thing he said made life “worthwhile” were the people that came into his life, primarily his first and second wives.

Tabor was married to his first wife, Edna, for 50 years before she passed away more than 20 years ago. “She was a marvelous gal, you couldn’t do better than to know her. She was a fine person,” he said.

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The two met because Tabor was a friend of Edna’s cousin. “Edna would come around every now and again, but once we met, she came around every weekend. I was lucky to get to know her,” he said.

The couple had two daughters, Judy and Janet, who live in the Palm Springs area. Tabor does not have any grandchildren.

Longtime friends Zeke Hlavacek and almost 100-year-old Frank Tabor
Longtime friends Zeke Hlavacek and almost 100-year-old Frank Tabor

After Edna’s passing, Tabor was out with friends at a bar when Zeke Hlavacek (a friend to this day who accompanied Tabor to the Light interview), suggested he come over for dinner. When he arrived, he was introduced to his would-be wife, Phyllis.

“She made everything worthwhile,” Tabor said. The two have been married for 20 years.

Keeping active (albeit not as active as he once was), Tabor maintains a sharp mind and active social life. “You have to keep your mind going and stay busy,” he said.

Tabor and Hlavacek are members of the Professional Men’s Society of La Jolla, and attend the monthly programs. “He was president (of the organization) in 1991,” Hlavacek boasted of his friend. “He used to play a hell of a golf game and plays bridge.”

Further, the Tabors have dinner with Hlavacek and his friend Lilo Miller once a month. With Tabor’s upcoming birthday, Hlavacek couldn’t resist a little ribbing. “(Frank) helped George Washington cross the Delaware, he’s that old!” he joked.

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Tabor responded, “I helped him row the boat.” These days, Tabor keeps his mind active by doing puzzles, particularly crossword puzzles, and doesn’t stress about what life might bring.

“Whatever comes in life will come, but we can hope that whatever comes is good,” he said. “In my life, it’s been good.”